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Publication numberUS20060153162 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/025,442
Publication dateJul 13, 2006
Filing dateDec 29, 2004
Priority dateDec 29, 2004
Also published asCA2531310A1, US8358760, US20130094496
Publication number025442, 11025442, US 2006/0153162 A1, US 2006/153162 A1, US 20060153162 A1, US 20060153162A1, US 2006153162 A1, US 2006153162A1, US-A1-20060153162, US-A1-2006153162, US2006/0153162A1, US2006/153162A1, US20060153162 A1, US20060153162A1, US2006153162 A1, US2006153162A1
InventorsMarian Croak, Hossein Eslambolchi
Original AssigneeMarian Croak, Hossein Eslambolchi
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for enabling phone number dialing using email addresses
US 20060153162 A1
Abstract
The invention comprises a method and apparatus for enabling a subscriber to establish a call to at least one destination phone number using an email address. Specifically, the method comprises receiving an incoming communication request from the subscriber for establishing the call (where the incoming communication request comprises an email address), determining at least one destination phone number associated with the email address, and processing the call using at least one of the at least one destination phone number associated with the email address.
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Claims(20)
1. A method for enabling a subscriber to establish a call to at least one destination phone number, comprising:
receiving an incoming communication request from said subscriber for establishing said call, said incoming communication request comprising an email address;
determining at least one destination phone number associated with said email address; and
processing said call using at least one of said at least one destination phone number associated with said email address.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein said email address is received as at least one of: a speech input, a text input, and a Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signal input.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein said determining at least one destination phone number associated with said email address is performed using speech recognition.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein said processing comprises:
calling said at least one of said at least one destination phone number for establishing said call.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein said processing comprises:
creating a network announcement for said subscriber, said network announcement comprising said at least one destination phone number;
providing said subscriber an option to establish said call using said at least one of said at least one destination phone number; and
calling said at least one of said at least one destination phone number in response to a selection by said subscriber of said option for establishing said call.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein said selection of said option to establish said call is performed using at least one of: a speech input, a text input, and a Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signal input.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
registering said email address with said communication network, wherein said email address is associated with said at least one destination phone number.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein said incoming communication request is received by a call control element (CCE).
9. A computer readable medium storing a software program, that, when executed by a computer, causes the computer to perform a method comprising:
receiving an incoming communication request from a subscriber for establishing said call, said incoming communication request comprising an email address;
determining at least one destination phone number associated with said email address; and
processing said call using at least one of said at least one destination phone number associated with said email address.
10. The computer readable medium of claim 9, wherein said email address is received as at least one of: a speech input, a text input, and a Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signal input.
11. The computer readable medium of claim 9, wherein said determining at least one destination phone number associated with said email address is performed using speech recognition.
12. The computer readable medium of claim 9, wherein said processing comprises:
calling said at least one of said at least one destination phone number for establishing said call.
13. The computer readable medium of claim 9, wherein said processing comprises:
creating a network announcement for said subscriber, said network announcement comprising said at least one destination phone number;
providing said subscriber an option to establish said call using said at least one of said at least one destination phone number; and
calling said at least one of said at least one destination phone number in response to a selection by said subscriber of said option for establishing said call.
14. The computer readable medium of claim 13, wherein said selection of said option to establish said call is made using at least one of: a speech input, a text input, and a Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signal input.
15. The computer readable medium of claim 9, further comprising:
registering said email address with a communication network, wherein said email address is associated with said at least one destination phone number.
16. An apparatus for enabling a subscriber to establish a call to at least one destination phone number, comprising:
means for receiving an incoming communication request from said subscriber for establishing said call, said incoming communication request comprising an email address;
means for determining at least one destination phone number associated with said email address; and
means for processing said call using at least one of said at least one destination phone number associated with said email address.
17. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein said means for determining at least one destination phone number associated with said email address comprises means for performing speech recognition.
18. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein said means for processing comprises:
means for calling said at least one of said at least one destination phone number for establishing said call.
19. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein said means for processing comprises:
means for creating a network announcement for said subscriber, said network announcement comprising said at least one destination phone number;
means for providing said subscriber an option to establish said call using said at least one of said at least one destination phone number; and
means for calling said at least one of said at least one destination phone number in response to a selection by said subscriber of said option for establishing said call.
20. The apparatus of claim 16, further comprising:
means for registering said email address with said communication network, wherein said email address is associated with said at least one destination phone number.
Description

The present invention relates generally to communication networks and, more particularly, to a method and apparatus for enabling network based phone number dialing using email addresses.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many people have numerous telephony devices that are reachable by distinct phone numbers. These include a home phone, an office phone, a home office phone, a cellular phone, a cellular phone integrated with Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), a car phone, a pager, a facsimile, and the like. A person can be reached at different phone numbers depending on where the person is. As such, a caller often needs to remember several numbers owned by the same person, and dial at least a portion of the several numbers, before the person can be reached. In general, callers are often able to remember an email address associated with a person more easily than remembering a plurality of phone numbers associated with a person.

Accordingly, a need exists for a method and apparatus for enabling a subscriber to establish a call to at least one destination phone number using an email address.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, the invention comprises a method and apparatus for enabling a subscriber to establish a call to at least one destination phone number using an email address. Specifically, the method comprises receiving an incoming communication request from the subscriber for establishing the call (where the incoming communication request comprises an email address), determining at least one destination phone number associated with the email address, and processing the call using at least one of the at least one destination phone number associated with the email address.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The teaching of the present invention can be readily understood by considering the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) network model related to the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates an example of a network based phone number dialing using email addresses service of the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a flowchart of a method for enabling a subscriber to establish a call to at least one destination phone number; and

FIG. 4 illustrates a high level block diagram of a general purpose computer suitable for use in performing the functions described herein.

To facilitate understanding, identical reference numerals have been used, where possible, to designate identical elements that are common to the figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

To better understand the present invention, FIG. 1 illustrates an example network, e.g., a VolP network related to the present invention. The VolP network may comprise various types of customer endpoint devices connected via various types of access networks to a carrier (a service provider) VolP core infrastructure over an Internet Protocol/Multi-Protocol Label Switching (IP/MPLS) based core backbone network. Broadly defined, a VolP network is a network that is capable of carrying voice signals as packetized data over an IP network. An IP network is broadly defined as a network that uses Internet Protocol to exchange data packets.

The customer endpoint devices can be either Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) based or IP based. TDM based customer endpoint devices 122, 123, 134, and 135 typically comprise TDM phones or Private Branch Exchanges (PBXs). IP based customer endpoint devices 144 and 145 typically comprise IP phones or IP PBXs. The Terminal Adaptors (TA) 132 and 133 are used to provide necessary interworking functions between TDM customer endpoint devices, such as analog phones, and packet based access network technologies, such as Digital Subscriber Loop (DSL) or Cable broadband access networks. TDM based customer endpoint devices access VolP services by using either a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) 120, 121 or a broadband access network via a TA 132 or 133. IP based customer endpoint devices access VolP services by using a Local Area Network (LAN) 140 and 141 with a VolP gateway or router 142 and 143, respectively.

The access networks can be either TDM or packet based. A TDM PSTN 120 or 121 is used to support TDM customer endpoint devices connected via traditional phone lines. A packet based access network, such as Frame Relay, ATM, Ethernet or IP, is used to support IP based customer endpoint devices via a customer LAN, e.g., 140 with a VolP gateway and router 142. A packet based access network 130 or 131, such as DSL or Cable, when used together with a TA 132 or 133, is used to support TDM based customer endpoint devices.

The core VolP infrastructure comprises several key VolP components, such as Border Elements (BEs) 112 and 113, Call Control Element (CCE) 111, and VolP related servers 114. The BE resides at the edge of the VolP core infrastructure and interfaces with customers endpoints over various types of access networks. A BE is typically implemented as a Media Gateway and performs signaling, media control, security, and call admission control and related functions. The CCE resides within the VolP infrastructure and is connected to the BEs using the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) over the underlying IP/MPLS based core backbone network 110. The CCE is typically implemented as a Media Gateway Controller and performs network wide call control related functions as well as interacts with the appropriate VolP service related servers when necessary. The CCE functions as a SIP back-to-back user agent and is a signaling endpoint for all call legs between all BEs and the CCE. The CCE may need to interact with various VolP related servers in order to complete a call that require certain service specific features, e.g. translation of an E.164 voice network address into an IP address.

For calls that originate or terminate in a different carrier, they can be handled through the PSTN 120 and 121 or the Partner IP Carrier 160 interconnections. For originating or terminating TDM calls, they can be handled via existing PSTN interconnections to the other carrier. For originating or terminating VolP calls, they can be handled via the Partner IP carrier interface 160 to the other carrier.

In order to illustrate how the different components operate to support a VolP call, the following call scenario is used to illustrate how a VolP call is setup between two customer endpoints. A customer using IP device 144 at location A places a call to another customer at location Z using TDM device 135. During the call setup, a setup signaling message is sent from IP device 144, through the LAN 140, the VolP Gateway/Router 142, and the associated packet based access network, to BE 112. BE 112 will then send a setup signaling message, such as a SIP-INVITE message if SIP is used, to CCE 111. CCE 111 looks at the called party information and queries the necessary VolP service related server 114 to obtain the information to complete this call. If BE 113 needs to be involved in completing the call, CCE 111 sends another call setup message, such as a SIP-INVITE message if SIP is used, to BE 113. Upon receiving the call setup message, BE 113 forwards the call setup message, via broadband network 131, to TA 133. TA 133 then identifies the appropriate TDM device 135 and rings that device. Once the call is accepted at location Z by the called party, an call acknowledgement signaling message, such as a SIP-ACK message if SIP is used, is sent in the reverse direction back to the CCE 111. After the CCE 111 receives the call acknowledgement message, it will then send a call acknowledgement signaling message, such as a SIP-ACK message if SIP is used, toward the calling party. In addition, the CCE 111 also provides the necessary information of the call to both BE 112 and BE 113 so that the call data exchange can proceed directly between BE 112 and BE 113. The call signaling path 150 and the call data path 151 are illustratively shown in FIG. 1. Note that the call signaling path and the call data path are different because once a call has been setup up between two endpoints, the CCE 111 does not need to be in the data path for actual direct data exchange.

Note that a customer in location A using any endpoint device type with its associated access network type can communicate with another customer in location Z using any endpoint device type with its associated network type as well. For instance, a customer at location A using IP customer endpoint device 144 with packet based access network 140 can call another customer at location Z using TDM endpoint device 123 with PSTN access network 121. The BEs 112 and 113 are responsible for the necessary signaling protocol translation, e.g., SS7 to and from SIP, and media format conversion, such as TDM voice format to and from IP based packet voice format.

FIG. 2 illustrates an example of the network based phone number dialing using an email address service. The example is illustrated in an IP/MPLS Core Network 210 using a sequence of events 201 to 209, in time, where steps 202, 204A, and 204B are optional. A subscriber subscribes to the network based “phone number dialing using an email address” service, enabling the subscriber to register associations between email addresses and associated phone numbers. In other words, the subscriber configures a directory comprising a mapping between respective email addresses associated with contacts that the subscriber may attempt to call and the phone numbers (e.g., home phone number, home office phone number, office phone number, mobile phone number, and the like) associated with the contacts.

Then, subscriber 260 (calling party) attempts to establish a call with a contact (a called party) using the contact's email address. The network receives an incoming communication request (call) from the subscriber 260. The call enters the network via BE 212 and BE 212 sends CCE 211 a SIP call setup signaling message. This event is shown as 201 in FIG. 2. The CCE 211 processes the call to determine the called party's email address, and interacts with phone number server 215 to retrieve the necessary information, such as a list of phone numbers and associated service logic associated with the called party's email address. Namely, server 215 can simply be a VolP related server that is tasked with handling the “phone number dialing using an email address” services of the present invention. This event is shown as 203 in FIG. 2.

In one embodiment, in which the email address provided by the subscriber is received as a speech input (i.e., the email address is spoken by the subscriber rather than being input using a keyboard, using Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signaling, and the like), before event 203 CCE 211 provides the input speech representation of the email address to automatic speech recognition system (ASRS) 216. The ASRS 216 processes the input speech, converting the input speech representation of the called party's email address to a data representation of the called party's email address. The data representation of the called party's email address is then returned to the CCE 211 for use in determining the phone numbers associated with the called party's email address (as specified in event 202). This optional event is shown as event 202 in FIG. 2.

In one embodiment, the CCE 211 optionally creates a network announcement for the subscriber, where the network announcement comprises the at least one phone number associated with the called party's email address (provided to CCE 211 by server 215). In one such embodiment, the network announcement simply provides the subscriber with the phone numbers associated with the called party email address. In another such embodiment, the network announcement provides the subscriber an option to establish the call with the called party using at least one of the phone numbers associated with the called party. For example, as a portion of the network announcement, the subscriber may be prompted to select one phone number to call (e.g., CCE 211 generates an audio message such as “press or say 1 to dial the home phone number; press or say 2 to dial the office phone number”). This event is shown as optional event 204A in FIG. 2.

In one embodiment, in which the network announcement comprises an option for enabling the subscriber to select a phone number for establishing the call with the called party, the subscriber may select at least one of the phone numbers specified in the network announcement using various user entry means (e.g., speech input, text input, DTMF signaling, and like user entry means). Upon receiving the user input from the subscriber in response to the network announcement, CCE 211 may call the called party phone number(s) specified by the subscriber in response to selection by the subscriber of the option to establish the call. In one such embodiment, the subscriber may have an option to ring all called party phone numbers associated with the email address simultaneously. This event is shown as optional event 204B in FIG. 2.

In one embodiment, in which the subscriber has configured the service to call the home phone number, the home office phone number, the office number, and the mobile phone number simultaneously, the CCE 211 follows the configured service logic and continues the call processing by sending SIP signaling messages to endpoint devices 221, 231, 241, and 251 simultaneously. In one embodiment, the CCE 211 may send SIP signaling messages to endpoint devices 221, 231, 241, and 251 simultaneously using input from the subscriber in response to a network announcement (e.g., an audio menu prompt such as: “press * to ring all phone numbers simultaneously”). The call processing flows for endpoint devices 221, 231, 241, and 251, are shown as events 205, 206, 207, and 208 respectively.

If the called party answers with the called party's mobile phone 241, the CCE 211 completes the call between the subscriber 260 and device 241, as shown in event 209 in FIG. 2. The call processing flows for endpoint devices 221, 231, and 251 are then terminated. It should be noted that a service provider, e.g., AT&T, may operate the IP/MPLS core network 110 and/or one or more of the access networks as described above. Furthermore, the number of networks, and/or components (e.g., BE, CCE, and VolP related servers) within each network is provided only as an example. Thus, greater or lesser number of networks, and/or components can be deployed in a particular communication system or architecture.

FIG. 3 illustrates a flowchart of a method for enabling a subscriber to establish a call to at least one destination phone number. Although depicted as being performed serially, those skilled in the art will appreciate that at least a portion of the steps of method 300 may be performed contemporaneously. The method 300 is entered at step 302 and proceeds to step 304. At step 304, at least one email address is registered with the network by a subscriber, where each registered email address comprises at least one associated destination phone number. In one embodiment, the registration of the mapping from email addresses to destination phone numbers is maintained by phone number server 215. At step 306, an incoming communication request (for establishing a call between the subscriber and a called party) is received. In one embodiment, the incoming communication request comprises an email address of the called party. The email address may be entered using voice input, text input (e.g., via a keyboard), DTMF signaling, and the like.

At step 308, at least one destination phone number is determined using the received email address. In one embodiment, the at least one destination phone number is determined by querying the server 215 using the email address associated with the called party. In another embodiment, in which the email address is received as speech input, the at least one destination phone number associated with the email address is determined using speech recognition processing (e.g., by converting the speech input to data input using ASRS 216).

At step 310, a determination is made as to whether a network announcement is created. In one embodiment, a network announcement may comprise an audio announcement generated by the network for providing information (e.g., destination phone numbers associated with the email address) to the subscriber. If a network announcement is not created, method 300 proceeds to step 312. If a network announcement is created, method 300 proceeds to step 314.

At step 312, at least one of the destination phone numbers associated with the email address is called using standard call completion processing as known in the art. In one embodiment, calls may be initiated to all destination phone numbers contemporaneously. In another embodiment, a call may be initiated to a preferred destination phone number. In still another embodiment, calls may be initiated to all destination phone numbers serially according to a priority associated with each destination phone number. The method 300 then proceeds to step 320 where method 300 ends.

At step 314, a network announcement is created for the subscriber in response to determination of the destination phone numbers associated with the called party's email address. At step 316, the subscriber is provided with an option to call at least one of the destination phone numbers associated with the called party's email address. At step 318, at least one of the destination phone numbers is called in response to selection of the option by the subscriber. The method 300 then proceeds to step 320 where method 300 ends.

FIG. 4 depicts a high level block diagram of a general purpose computer suitable for use in performing the functions described herein. As depicted in FIG. 4, the system 400 comprises a processor element 402 (e.g., a CPU), a memory 404, e.g., random access memory (RAM) and/or read only memory (ROM), a directory service module 405, and various input/output devices 406 (e.g., storage devices, including but not limited to, a tape drive, a floppy drive, a hard disk drive or a compact disk drive, a receiver, a transmitter, a speaker, a display, an output port, and a user input device (such as a keyboard, a keypad, a mouse, and the like)).

It should be noted that the present invention can be implemented in software and/or in a combination of software and hardware, e.g., using application specific integrated circuits (ASIC), a general purpose computer or any other hardware equivalents. In one embodiment, the present directory service module or process 405 can be loaded into memory 404 and executed by processor 402 to implement the functions as discussed above. As such, the present directory service process 405 (including associated data structures) of the present invention can be stored on a computer readable medium or carrier, e.g., RAM memory, magnetic or optical drive or diskette and the like.

Although various embodiments which incorporate the teachings of the present invention have been shown and described in detail herein, those skilled in the art can readily devise many other varied embodiments that still incorporate these teachings.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7792269 *Dec 30, 2004Sep 7, 2010At&T Intellectual Property Ii, L.P.Method and apparatus for providing network announcements about service impairments
US8605718Aug 30, 2006Dec 10, 2013Babitech Ltd.Immediate communication system
US8639225 *May 25, 2011Jan 28, 2014Heine F. NZUMAFOE-mail to phone number resolution for mobile to mobile, mobile to landline, and PC to mobile communications
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US20100197305 *Jul 30, 2009Aug 5, 2010Qualcomm IncorporatedCorrelating registrations originating from a device
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Classifications
U.S. Classification370/352
International ClassificationH04L12/66
Cooperative ClassificationH04M3/4935, H04M2203/154, H04L61/1564, H04L29/06027, H04L61/157, H04M7/128, H04L29/1215, H04L29/1216, H04L51/28, H04L51/04, H04L51/066
European ClassificationH04L61/15H, H04L61/15G, H04L29/12A2G, H04M3/493D4, H04L29/12A2H, H04L12/58C2, H04M7/12H16
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 15, 2005ASAssignment
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CROAK, MARIAN;ESLAMBOLCHI, HOSSEIN;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050608 TO 20050609;REEL/FRAME:016339/0128
Owner name: AT & T CORP., NEW YORK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CROAK, MARIAN;ESLAMBOLCHI, HOSSEIN;REEL/FRAME:016339/0128;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050608 TO 20050609
Owner name: AT & T CORP., NEW YORK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CROAK, MARIAN;ESLAMBOLCHI, HOSSEIN;REEL/FRAME:016339/0128;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050608 TO 20050609
Owner name: AT & T CORP., NEW YORK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CROAK, MARIAN;ESLAMBOLCHI, HOSSEIN;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050608 TO 20050609;REEL/FRAME:016339/0128